OUTBREAKS of infectious disease such as foot-and-mouth disease or bluetongue can be devastating for livestock production and animal health, and may severely impact on human health and wellbeing. The role of animal movement in spreading infection is well documented, yet most UK sheep farmers take no animal health precautions either when introducing purchased animals to their flocks or at farm boundaries. As a result, infectious diseases are very common and are estimated to cost the industry millions of pounds through less efficient production. Veterinary surgeons have a vital role to play in advising their sheep farmer clients on flock health security — that is, strategies to prevent spread of infection between farms. As described in this article, measures can be undertaken at farm level in an attempt to prevent a national tragedy; furthermore, by controlling more commonplace diseases, such efforts can do much to improve the health, productivity and welfare of sheep.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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